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Wiltshire Community History

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South Newton

This page is one of 261 pages covering every community in Wiltshire, and is provided by Wiltshire Council Libraries and Heritage. A project to provide a fuller picture of each community is in progress, working on the larger communities first. When these 261, which are modern civil parishes, are completed we will begin work on a further 180 villages and hamlets to provide comprehensive coverage of Wiltshire communities large and small.

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

This is a corrected and updated edition of the 1773 map that includes the recently built canals.

Map of the Civil Parish of South Newton:

Map of the Civil Parish of South Newton

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

From the Ordnance Survey 1896 revision of the one inch to one mile map. The modern civil parish boundary has been superimposed.

Thumbnail History:

The civil parish of South Newton stands largely on the land of a 10th century manor, bounded on the west by the river Wylye and on the east by the road along the ridge which divides the valleys of the rivers Wylye and Avon. In the south-east the parish extends to the Avon itself.

In 1879 the parish also included North Ugford, a detached section to the west of Wilton; at this time the parish covered 3,502 acres. The south-east of this detached section had become part of Wilton parish by 1879 and the remaining 372 acres of the detached section were transferred to Burcombe parish in 1884; the eastern section of this Burcombe land was subsequently attached to Wilton parish in 1934. By 1986 these and other successive boundary changes had resulted in South Newton parish itself consisting of a total acreage of 2,745 acres

The whole parish stands on chalk, with alluvium and gravel deposits by the rivers Wylye, Nadder and Avon. Four settlements stand alongside the river Wylye in the west of the parish: from south to north they are South Newton, Little Wishford, Stoford and Chilhampton. Each of these settlements stands on gravel and has a strip of land extending eastwards from the river to the downland. Their names are of Saxon origin. Modern day Chilhampton consists only of a farm with that name.

A fifth settlement, Burden's Ball, had been added to the parish by the 16th century, although approximately 40 acres of the meadows attached to this settlement were included in Wilton parish in the early 19th century. The name of Burden's Ball is associated with the Burdun family, noted in the inquisition post-mortem of Robert Burdun in 1263; the element 'Ball' probably signifies 'boundary mark'.
The road along the eastern boundary of the parish is of ancient origin and became the main Devizes to Salisbury road, being turnpiked in 1761. It remains an important route, the A360. The Wilton to Warminster road which passes through settlements on the western side of the Wylye, some of which belong to South Newton parish, was also turnpiked in 1761 as part of a Salisbury to Bath road. Another Salisbury to Bath road along the eastern side of the Wylye was designated as a trunk road in 1946, the A36. Improvements to this road between 1958 and 1972 led to the course of the river Wylye being moved westwards at a point south of South Newton church.

In the north of the parish a road from Bath crossed the parish to the south of Stapleford and joined the Salisbury to Devizes road; this road, known as Chain Drove, decreased in importance, however, and is now only a track. To the east of Stapleford another road diverged from Chain Drove, taking a route over Chain Hill, and also joined the Salisbury to Devizes road. This forms the northern boundary of South Newton parish.

Other east-west roads existed across the parish: one from Stoford joined Chain Drove on Stoford Down in the north-east of the parish; another to the south of the parish ran from Chilhampton to join the Devizes road at Chilhampton Down; this is also now a track. Another road on the southern boundary of the parish, north of Burden's Ball, ran along the southern boundary in an east-west direction and was named Kingsway; this road continues in existence.

In the detached part of the parish based on North Ugford, the road between Wilton and North Ugford along the north bank of the river Nadder was named Portway in the 11th century. The Grovely Ridge Way runs along the north-eastern boundary of this detached part of the parish. The Ox Drove crossed the northern part of the parish and formed part of a Mere to Wilton road along which milestones were erected in 1750; this road declined in importance when the Wilton to Mere road running alongside the north bank of the river Nadder (now the B3089) was turnpiked in 1761. This latter road was disturnpiked in 1870 but became a trunk road in 1936 as part of the main London to Penzance road (the A30); detrunking took place in 1958.

In 1856 the Salisbury to Warminster section of the Great Western Railway opened, crossing the south-western corner of the main part of the parish; Wilton station was opened at Burden's Ball in 1856 but closed in 1955. The line itself remains in operation.

The line of the Salisbury & Yeovil Railway, opened in 1859 and extended in 1860, runs along the Nadder valley through North Ugford; it also remains in operation.

The prehistoric history of the parish includes a field system at Camp Down in the Avon valley in the south-east of the parish; this covers an area in excess of 100 acres. Another field system existed on the downs to the east of Chilhampton and in the north-east of the parish part of a system covering some 450 acres can be traced. In the south-east of the parish at the convergence of the rivers Avon and Wylye a small Romano-British settlement existed.

A small number of artefacts from Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, early Iron Age and Roman periods have been found at sites within the parish.
The main part of South Newton parish with the exception of Burden's Ball was granted by King Edmund in 943 to his thegn Wulfgar. This estate, with the exception of Little Wishford, was subsequently held by Wulfthryth and became South Newton manor. King Edgar granted the manor, which comprised South Newton, Stoford and Chilhampton, to Wilton Abbey in 968. In 1086 an estate named Newton, but almost certainly including South Newton, Stoford and Chilhampton, is recorded. The population of the estate was approximately 185 people. It remained in the Abbey's possession until the Dissolution. The prefix 'South' in the parish name was in place by 1243, perhaps to distinguish it from North Newnton where land was also owned by Wilton Abbey.

In 1544 the manor was granted by the Crown to Sir William Herbert, who was created earl of Pembroke in 1551; it subsequently descended with the Pembroke title. In the early 21st century most of the land in South Newton, Stoford and Chilhampton remains in the possession of Henry, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery.

In Stoford, however, a freehold estate of some 61.25 acres was held by Henry Quintin, who died in 1284. This land was inherited by William Quintin (d. 1290) and descended subsequently by inheritance and sale until Sir Richard Grobham, who died in 1629, gave it to endow an almshouse at Great Wishford. The estate of 69 acres was sold by the trustees in 1948.

A second freehold estate in Stoford of approximately 30 acres, together with a further approximately 25 acres in South Newton, belonged in 1462 to William, Lord Stourton. It descended through the Stourton family until Edward Stourton sold it between 1693 and 1704 to Henry Blake. It then descended by inheritance and sale to Alexander Powell who sold the estate of 112 acres to George, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery and it was added to South Newton manor.

An estate in Chilhampton was held by knight service to the lord of South Newton manor. In 1242-3 the heirs of Walter of Calstone held the estate which descended by inheritance and sale until its 300 acres were sold by Susannah and William Eyre to George, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery in c.1806.

In 1407 William Chitterne granted a total of 12.5 acres in locations which included Chilhampton and South Newton to the Hospital of St. Giles and St. Anthony in Wilton. Of these, two acres in Chilhampton belonged to the Hospital in 1801.

Eton College owned six acres in 1567; these were probably located in Chilhampton. In 1844 the College owned 15 acres in Chilhampton.

The manor of Little Wishford was held by Wilton Abbey in 1086 until the Dissolution and was granted with South Newton manor to Sir William Herbert in 1544. The manor descended with that of South Newton with the Pembroke title and remains in the possession of the Earl of Pembroke in the early 21st century.

Burden's Ball manor was held by Robert Burden, who died in c. 1280; it descended by inheritance to Henry Clifford who sold it to Sir William Herbert in 1547. It subsequently descended with the Pembroke title.

In 956 King Edwy granted four mansae (a measure of land, each one sufficient to support one family) at North Ugford to Wistan. In 1086 the manor was held by Wilton Abbey which continued to hold it to the Dissolution. In 1544 it was granted to Sir William Herbert and also descended with the Pembroke title.

The tithes from the main part of the parish, including those from Burden's Ball, were paid to the prebendary of South Newton from the early Middle Ages. Those from North Ugford were payable to him from 1191 or earlier. In addition the prebendary subsequently held some 25 acres in South Newton. However, the prebend was appropriated by Wilton Abbey in 1540, which held it until the Dissolution. This estate was granted to Sir William Herbert in 1544 and descended with the Pembroke title.

Agriculture in the parish was focussed on the discrete settlements of the parish: At South Newton some 650 acres of arable land were farmed in three open fields by 1567; these were named North, Middle and South Fields. East of the arable land, on higher ground, were three pastures for sheep grazing. The most northerly of these comprised 300 acres and the most southerly 200 acres; they were grazed in common. These two pastures were interposed by a 100 acre field shared by the demesne farmer and one freeholder. Some enclosure of the arable land had been carried out by 1750 and by approximately 1805 enclosure of the arable land and most of the common pasture had been completed. At this time ploughing had taken place over much of the downland. Completion of the pasture land enclosure had taken place by 1844, when more than 1,000 acres of land were arable and only some 100 acres of downland pasture remained; there were 73 acres of water meadows at this time.
In 1844 there were six farms: Manor Farm comprised some 560 acres, including 462 acres of arable, 49 acres of water meadows and 34 acres of pasture. Another farm to the south-east of Manor Farm covered 319 acres, including 60 in Chilhampton. Folly Farm had 222 acres of arable land, 28 acres of downland and 8 acres of meadow and pasture in South Newton. Three other farms north-west of Manor Farm had farmhouses in South Newton village. By 1863 only two farms were based in and around South Newton village - Manor Farm, of 485 acres and Mill Farm, of 328 acres, which had a new farmstead at the south of the village. Folly Farm and the other lands to the south east had become part of Chilhampton Farm. Subsequently farm location and land use - mainly arable - remained stable into the 20th century. A dairy herd was kept at Manor Farm in the mid 20th century and in 1993 Manor and Mill Farms, mainly arable, were worked together.

Little Wishford's land comprised some 420 acres in the early Middle Ages. In 1086 there was a population of around 70 people. There were three open fields, known as East Field, Middle Field and West Field, in the mid 16th century and to the north-east of the village sheep were grazed on a common down. By 1820 there was a single farm comprising 79 acres of downland pasture, 14 acres of meadow, 19 acres of water meadow, and 279 acres of arable land, approximately a fifth of the latter having been converted from downland pasture. By 1863 the remaining downland was being ploughed and the area devoted to water meadows had increased to 35 acres. Little Wishford Farm worked the land, comprising some 537 acres, in the late 20th century.

In Stoford in the mid 16th century there were three open fields, East, Middle and West which totalled 360 acres; there was also a common pasture of some 100 acres located in the north-east of the parish. A 12 acre common meadow was located to the north-west of the village between the two courses of the river Wylye. In the 18th century a new open field of approximately 90 acres was created on the downland. However, an enclosure award of 1815 brought an end to the common fields.

In c.1805 some seven farms were in existence in Stoford; however, by about 1820 these were reduced to four. After enclosure Stoford's remaining downland came under arable cultivation and in 1844 this totalled 439 acres.

By 1863 Stoford's land was farmed by one 530 acre farm. In the 1920s there were three farms, mainly arable, of 325, 114 and 131 acres but by the late 20th century the land was worked by other nearby farms.

The 600 acres centred on Chilhampton in 1086 included land to the east of the Devizes-Salisbury road. In the mid16th century there were three open fields, North, South and East; these were subsequently known as Bottom, Hill and Lower fields respectively. In 1788 a new open field was created on the downland adjoining Hill and Bottom fields and a further 21 acres were added to the field in 1790. In 1805 there were some 332 acres of arable, 90 acres of meadow and lowland pasture and 170 acres of downland pasture. Enclosure had taken place by 1820. By 1820 further acreage of downland had been ploughed. From the mid 19th century onwards most land was farmed by Chilhampton Farm and a new farmstead was built in 1856 alongside the Wilton to Warminster road. In 1863 Chilhampton Farm was working 616 acres, including Folly Farm. In approximately 1920 some two-thirds of the farm's land was arable, and the pre-eminence of arable continues to the early 21st century. Most of the land east of the Devizes road, however, was pasture. Settlement at Chilhampton is now limited to Chilhampton Farm.

At Burden's Ball the medieval acreage of approximately 215 acres was likely to have been farmed in open fields with some common pasture on the downland. By 1550 the land was included in Burden's Ball Farm; in 1567 the farm comprised 126 acres of arable land in fields known as North, East and West fields, together with 60 acres of downland pasture. In approximately 1805, with the exception of 10 acres of meadows and pasture, the farm was entirely arable and remained so in the 19th and 20th centuries. From the mid 19th century the land was worked with other land from outside South Newton parish.

In North Ugford in the mid 16th century approximately 250 acres of land were in open fields named East, Middle and West Fields. There were some 108 acres comprising pasture for sheep and cattle, and meadows. The process of enclosure of the open fields, which had begun by 1632, was completed between 1798 and 1844, by which time most of the land was contained within two farms. By 1863 the downland was under arable cultivation. In the mid and late 19th century farm buildings were built in the village, including Ugford Farm, and on the downs.

In 1086 there were two mills in South Newton manor, two in Little Wishford and one at North Ugford; the same number of mills was still in operation in the 14th century. In 1305 and 1315 a mill in or near South Newton village is recorded as belonging to the Imbert family, who also owned corn mills at Wilton. Another mill at South Newton was cited in 1335 and 1361, one at Little Wishford in 1303 and 1315, and one at North Ugford in 1338. However, by the 16th century only one mill was apparently in existence, at South Newton. In approximately 1680 the mill was used for both corn grinding and cloth fulling purposes. The mill was rebuilt in 1820 and remained in use until 1960. It is now a residential property but the iron millwheel is still in place.

There was a starch maker in South Newton in 1752. Twentieth century economic activity in the village included a cycle and motor cycle dealer in the 1920s, and a garage from the middle years of the century. A car sales company operates into the early 21st century.

In Stoford a malthouse was in operation in approximately 1805, and brewers are recorded there in 1848 and 1855. A corn dealer and haulier was trading in Stoford between 1867 and 1885.

At Burden's Ball traders included a coal dealer in 1859, a wine and spirit merchant between 1859 and 1875 and a brewer between 1867 and 1875. A whiting works which was open in 1863 and which later also made hearthstones and putty, was still in operation in 1939.

In terms of the parish's population, the village of South Newton has been the largest settlement since the Middle Ages; in 1377 there were 69 poll-tax payers as opposed to 18 in Little Wishford, 38 in Stoford, 14 in Chilhampton and 45 in North Ugford. In 1811 the population of South Newton was 223, Little Wishford 8, Stoford 64, Chilhampton 64, Burden's Ball 112, and North Ugford 45.

Building in the village of South Newton, has taken place throughout its history in order to house the population and its activities. The Church of St. Andrew, parts of which date from the 13th century, stands on the east side of the Wilton to Warminster road, as did its vicarage which was demolished in the mid 19th century. Manor Farm, which was the demesne farmhouse, was rebuilt in 1799. Newton Cottage, constructed of brick and flint rubble, is dated 1679. Other farmsteads and buildings to the north of the church on either side of the road were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Spex Hall, dating from c.1860, lies south of the church. The Bell Inn was open by 1737 and continues to serve the public to the present day. Another inn, the Plough, was in existence in the 18th century but its location is unclear.

Newton House, dating from approximately 1800, and a new vicarage were built north of the church. The latter was renamed Glenside Manor, extended and opened as a nursing home in 1982. Together with Newton House and a number of other surrounding buildings it remains in operation both as a nursing home and as an assessment and rehabilitation centre for people with brain or head injuries.

The longest surviving mill in South Newton, described above, was located on the Wylye some 400 metres south of church, with its main leat on the west side of road between the mill and Manor Farm. The Andrews and Dury map of 1773 shows that a line of houses adjoined the east side of the road north of the mill; in the tithe award of 1846 eleven cottages are shown here. A school was built near this location in the 1830s. A large farmhouse was built east of the mill between 1844 and 1860 and the terrace of four flint and brick cottages, known as Pembroke Cottages are Grade II listed as a "good example of Wilton Estate building in the Wylye valley".
House building has taken place in South Newton throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, serving an increasing population, which in the parish as a whole rose from 454 in 1901 to 756 in 2001. Jubilee Terrace, comprising six houses and two bungalows, was built between 1935 and 1937 and commemorates the Silver Jubilee of George V. A total of 73 council houses and bungalows were built between 1947 and 1956. Two bungalows were built in 1946 as a Second World War memorial and these were later designated almshouses to be rented to parishioners.

In Little Wishford a church was recorded in 1428 no further references have been found. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries there were only two farms at Little Wishford, both south of the Warminster road. Little Wishford Farmhouse was rebuilt in the early 19th century and bay windows were subsequently added to the south front.

The village of Stoford comprised a line of farmsteads (freeholds or copyholds of South Newton manor) on the east side of the Warminster road. Originally a ford led from Stoford to Great Wishford across the river but by the early 18th century this had been replaced by a bridge, itself rebuilt in 1841. In 1844 there were five farmsteads and, to the west of the road, one cottage which survives. Stoford House opposite the bridge was built in the 18th century and rebuilt in 1822. Stoford Farmhouse was also built in the 18th century and altered in the next. Several 18th century cottages also remain in existence.

In the mid 20th century some 40 residential properties were built at Stoford, mainly in Mount Pleasant, and there was further infill building in the late 20th century.

The variably named Swan Inn was in operation in 1740; it was known as the White Swan in 1789, the Swan, again, in 1844, the White Swan in 1863, the Black Swan in 1919 and again the Swan from 1993.

Halls for the joint use of South Newton and Great Wishford parishes were built at the south end of Stoford in 1949-50 and 1980.

The settlement at Chilhampton, which lay primarily on the east side of the Warminster road, consisted of a number of farms which were freeholds or copyholds of South Newton manor. By 1800 there were also several other houses and cottages which have not survived to the present day. The red brick Chilhampton Farmhouse was built in the mid 19th century. To the east of Chilhampton, close to the river Avon, is a substantial house built c.1900 and named the Bays.

Burden's Ball consisted in the 16th century of a single farm on the east side of the Warminster road. Andrews and Dury's map of 1773 shows several other buildings alongside the main road. The present Burden's Ball Farmhouse was built in brick and rubble in the mid 18th century, and altered and extended in the 19th century.

The town of Wilton expanded along North Street to Burden's Ball in the 19th century. The oldest house in this area, at the junction of King Street and Primrose Hill, was built in 1725. Burden's Ball House at the junction of North Street and Queen Street was built c.1830 and in 1844 there was an inn name the Shepherd, or Shepherd's Tap or Shepherd's Crook, until the 1850s. At the junction of North Street and King Street a house, also of early 19th century origin, was open as the Wheatsheaf Inn in 1844-5 and continues in operation today.

South Newton parish became part of Wilton poor law union in 1836 and in 1837 the Wilton Union workhouse was built on the north side of Kingsway in Burden's Ball. In addition to the Great Western Railway station which opened in 1856, closing in 1955, a gasworks had been built by 1859; this closed in 1934. The sites of workhouse, station and gasworks are in use for industrial purposes.

A church stood at North Ugford in the Middle Ages. The settlement itself was referred to as Ugford St. John in the 12th and 13th centuries; Ugford Abbess in the 16th century and Ugford St. Giles in the 17th century. Its names have distinguished it from the village called Ugford, or South Ugford, on the south side of the river Nadder.

In 1798 and 1844 there were some ten houses in the village. At the east end stands Ugford Farm, a timber framed house of the 16th century. At the west end Ugford Old Farm is also timber framed, with a roof dating from the late 16th or early 17th century. Ugford House was built in the 18th century and was altered and extended in the early 19th century. A small amount of building took place in the 20th century. To the east of the village a cemetery serving Wilton and the surrounding area opened in 1901.

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Folk Songs from South Newton

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